What's waiting for you in the Wairarapa...
Ask a local what they like about the Wairarapa and if they don't mention the weather, they'll say it's the sense of wide open space. This region of wide plains and rolling hill country, bordered by mountain ranges on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. The Rimutakas and Tararuas not only block the worst of the westerly weather but offer endless possibilities for walking and outdoor adventures. The wild, virturally empty coastline draws swimmers, surfers, divers and fisherman. The landscape is rugged and unspoilt: the food and wine are of the highest quality. Sample some of New Zealand's best wines from vineyards around Martinborough, Gladstone and Masterton. Try everything from country cooking to top notch cuisine in the many cafe's and restaurants. And all this is within just over an hour's drive or train trip from the capital.
Must sees in the Wairarapa include:
> Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre - watch out for a pair of nesting Huia at the visitor's centre; walk the new track leading up to a viewing point high in the rainforest.
> In Masterton, some of the country's finest artworks are housed at Aratoi. There's a flourishing Farmers Market each Saturday morning, and wide openspaces under 150 year old trees at Queen Elizabeth Park. Shear Discovery offers insights into our sheep-farming heritage.
> Riversdale and Castlepoint, east of Masterton, are long sandy beaches, very popular with surfers, swimmers, fisherman and divers.
> Mangatainoka is Tui HQ, home to all things TUI. Visit for a beer tasting, some Kiwi tucker from the Tui HQ Cafe', or take a free look around the museum and shop (tours need to be pre-booked).
> Great walks - Rimutaka, Tararua and Aorangi Forest Parks offer walks ranging from an hour's stroll to a four-day tramp. And don't miss the Putangirua Pinnacles (The Valley of the Dead).
> Stonehenge Aotearoa, just out of Carterton, is a modern , working version mof the original Stonehenge. Learn how our ancestors navigated, planted and planned by the stars.
> Carterton's Paua World celebrates New Zealand's iridescent shell with sales of jewellery, souvenirs and much more besides.
> Gladstone offers a real country experience - there's a picture perfect church, rolling hills, and vineyards. Stop for lunch at the Gladstone Inn or the Cafe' at Gladstone Vineyard.
> Cafe's, antiques, art and designer gear make Greytown the top stop on State Highway 2.
> First stop after the Rimutakas, Featherston is the historic heart of the region. Check out the world's only Fell engine, lone survivor of a mountain railway over the Rimutakas.
> The Wairarapa specialises in small, friendly, vineyards that make great wine. Discover them on the wine trail or a wine-tasting tour. Also visit an olive grove and try award-winning olive oils.
> The drive out to Cape Palliser takes in a wild coastline, flourishing fur seal colony, and if you're brave enough to walk the 258 steps, the view from Cape Palliser Lighthouse is outstanding.
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